City StagesPhotographs by Matthew Pillsbury
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This first monograph by Matthew Pillsbury offers a paean to the craft and visionary potential of large-format, black-and-white photography as well as to the vibrancy of the cultural landscape at a transitional moment—a moment in which our very relationship to that landscape is increasingly mediated by omnipresent screens. Over the past decade, Pillsbury has built several extensive bodies of work—Screen Lives, Hours, and City Stages—that deal with different facets of contemporary metropolitan life and the passage of time. Working with black-and-white 8-by-10 film and long exposures, Pillsbury captures a range of psychologically charged experiences in the urban environment, from isolation—tuned into the omnipresent screens of our tablets, laptops, televisions, and phones—to crowded museums, parades, cathedrals, and even protests.
Working primarily in New York but with forays to Paris, London, Venice, and other sites, the precise and concrete rendering of cityscapes, iconic landmarks, and interior spaces in his images provides a stage-like setting for the performance of human activity. Thanks to the extended exposures—some as long as an hour—the actions of both individuals and crowds are blurred and transformed into pure gesture and energy.
Matthew Pillsbury (born in Neuilly, France, 1973) received his BA in fine art from Yale University in 1995 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2004. His work has been exhibited internationally and is widely held in private and museum collections, including the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, Museum of Modern Art, and Guggenheim Museum, all in New York; Musée du Louvre, Paris; and Tate Modern, London. In 2007, Pillsbury won the prestigious Fondation HSBC pour la Photographie award. His work is represented by Bonni Benrubi, New York; Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta; and Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver.
". . . the story of New York, or Mr. Pillsbury's New York, is not so much about its overactive residents as it is about architecture and infrastructure—which is to say, the city itself." —Alan Feuer, "The Blur of Life," New York Times